April 23, 2014
U.S. Copyright Office - Music Licensing Study

While the Copyright Act reflects many sound and enduring principles, and has enabled the internet to flourish, Congress could not have foreseen all of today’s technologies and the myriad ways consumers and others engage with creative works in the digital environment.  Perhaps nowhere has the landscape been as significantly altered as in the realm of music. 

Music is more available now than it has ever been. Today, music is delivered to consumers not only in physical formats, such as compact discs and vinyl records, but is available on demand, both by download and streaming, as well as through smartphones, computers, and other devices. At the same time, the public continues to consume music through terrestrial and satellite radio, and more recently, internet-based radio. Music continues to enhance films, television, and advertising, and is a key component of many apps and video games. 

Such uses of music require licenses from copyright owners. The mechanisms for obtaining such licenses are largely shaped by our copyright law, including the statutory licenses under Sections 112, 114, and 115 of the Copyright Act, which provide government-regulated licensing regimes for certain uses of sound recordings and musical works.  

The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing methods of licensing music. The Office will solicit written comments and hold public meetings to obtain the views of stakeholders and the public on music licensing issues. The Office will use the information gathered during the study to report to Congress. 

You can submit your own comments - or get together with friends or an organization - right here. There are 24 questions that you can answer - some are open-ended and some are more specific. You can check them out at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/2014/79fr14739.pdf but if that doesn’t load, try the cached version here

Thanks to Courtoly for the head’s up about the deadline. 

April 18, 2014

cobramonsterboy777 asked: Hello, I'm just here to say that yesterday, the US Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Asia, Tami Overby confidently announced that there would be a breakthrough for TPP negotiations next week when Obama arrives in Japan, do you think she's right?

Given this, I don’t think that her statement means anything in particular.  She’s just a lobbyist, whereas one of the Japanese negotiators said this: 

“Our talks have been at a stalemate, and we’ve seen zero progress in key areas.”

They’re talking about stalemates on agricultural issues, not the IP or medical or environmental issues that capture more mainstream media attention, but that stalemate impacts the entire negotiation process.  

April 17, 2014
myconvergence:

transformativeworks:

Do you have legal experience? Are you interested in helping volunteers? Are you good at investigating complaints? We need you! Volunteer for the OTW: http://bit.ly/RiFYRF

Recruiting for the Legal team, the Archive’s Abuse team, and organization’s Volunteers & Recruiting team.  Three awesome ways to contribute to the OTW, so I encourage you to check out the position descriptions and consider applying.

myconvergence:

transformativeworks:

Do you have legal experience? Are you interested in helping volunteers? Are you good at investigating complaints? We need you! Volunteer for the OTW: http://bit.ly/RiFYRF

Recruiting for the Legal team, the Archive’s Abuse team, and organization’s Volunteers & Recruiting team.  Three awesome ways to contribute to the OTW, so I encourage you to check out the position descriptions and consider applying.

(via wrangletangle)

April 13, 2014

starry-dreamer asked: This is in relation to the novel I'm working on right now. Is it ok to use the term "droid" when describing robots in a sci-fi story? I find I default to it often (mostly cause I like it better than the terms "robot" or "android" I think), but since Star Wars basically coined that term, I'm afraid they may have it trademarked or something.

You can always check the public records of  USPTO.gov to see if someone has a trademark for a term; Lucasfilm does, but it’s only for toys. There’s at least one other entity that has a live registration for a mark containing DROID for unrelated goods, but even if Lucasfilm was the only entity out there that doesn’t mean you can’t use the term in a descriptive sense. A trademark holder can’t restrict others from using a term to describe something - and it doesn’t sound like you’re using it as a mark, just a word in your narrative. It is, at this point, commonly used in SF and other fictional stories, and afaik, Lucasfilm hasn’t tried to stop it - and even if they tried to now, the doctrines of laches and acquiescence would probably bar them from doing so. 

However, if it’s in the title of the series of books you want to publish and sell, then you may be using it as a mark, and Lucasfilm might try to stop you from doing that. But that’s an issue publishers’ legal departments generally deal with and it shouldn’t impact the story you’re writing. 

5:21am  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZlK2rs1Cvlsrw
  
Filed under: trademarks 
April 11, 2014
If three things make a trend, what happens next?

Today In Fandom, Transformative Works and Fan/Creator Interactions: 

1. The Teen Wolf S3 DVDs will include a collection of fanart with a forward by Jeff Davis. 

2. Robert Downey Jr namedropped/fanboy-ed the always-creative Copperbadge on his Facebook page. 

3. theorlandojones continued his awesome trend of including fans in his FollowFriday tweets. 

4. Peter Capaldi (who drew some Doctor Who fanart in his own youth) thanked Doctor Who fans who’d sent him fanart by…. sending them his Doctor Who fanart - and the BBC featured it on tumblr and twitter. 

This sort of dialogue, interaction, shares of creativity and mutual respect are amazing, magicial, and inspiring some more creativity already! I know, I’ve seen ficlets and notfics and role-playing tweets and squee - and  yes, some concern about the risks of inappropriate behavior by fans (and, yes, by TPTB). But it’s definitely a trend, and given that I’ve been through moments where we were terrified that acknowledgment from The Studios, or the actors, or the shorwunners, meant that we’d be shut down and tossed offline and in danger of being sued… 

Is this The Year of the Fan? And what does that mean for the diverse range of fannish communities that exist - including the ones that don’t want to interconnect with the crew, cast and studio? And can the connections continue to be two-way, with mutual understanding and respect on all sides? 

In other words, where do we go from here? 

(Posted on April 11, 2014)

April 11, 2014

thelibrarina asked: Hi! I'm a teen librarian holding a "blackout poetry" program this month, where you make a poem out of words on a book's page and cross out the others. I'm curious as to how copyright applies to the teens' finished works. Is it transformative? Is it an original work using a limited vocabulary?

There’s no case law on this specific topic, so we have to reach a conclusion by analogy, and look at cases that allow - or bar - similar things.  And we’re assuming you’re in the US - if you’re not, then the Fair Use and First Sale doctrines in your country may be different. 

First, there’s an interesting issue in what you’re doing - if you’re using pages from an actual book, the First Sale Doctrine allows you to do whatever you want to a copy of a book that you own (or are allowed to write on), as long as it isn’t a work of fine art or photography that meets the requirements of the Visual Artists Rights Act.

Then, combine that doctrine with the fact that it is not possible in the US to copyright words or short phrases, or ideas. It’s actually barred by the Copyright Act, which is why so many works have the same title (although the title of a series of books can be trademarked, which is a different kind of IP protection). 

And finally, run a Fair Use analysis on what’s left of the original work. A Fair Use analysis looks at these factors: 

(1) The purpose and character of the use, including whether you’ve made a new transformative work, and whether your use is commercial.
(2) The nature of the original work, such as whether it is more factual than fictional.
(3) How much of the original work was used.
(4) Whether the new use affects the potential market for the original work.

Commercial use doesn’t mean something isn’t fair use. But if you’re doing this at a library, then it’s likely noncommercial anyway. You’re not using much of the original work, and there’s no negative impact on the potential market for the original work, so it likely comes under the ambit of Fair Use. 

If most of the original words are not visible, what you’re doing is transformative. And those doing the blackout poetry probably would hold copyright in the final work, both as a text work, and a work of visual art. 

ETA: I realized I forgot to speak about what happens if the book you’re marking up is public domain - if that’s the case, then nobody owns the copyright in the printed words and you can do whatever you want with it. And since I’m adding info, I’m going to share Rivkat’s info about the 7th and 9th Circuits in the US: 

Depends on where you are!  If in the 7th Circuit, the properly decided case ofLee v. ART Tiles makes clear that if you are using a lawfully made copy and just writing/using marker to black words out on it you don’t need to do a fair use analysis; you aren’t doing anything that copyright prohibits in the first place!  Unfortunately, though there is general consensus that Lee is completely right, there’s a case in the 9th Circuit to the contrary, Mirage.  So if you’re in the 9th Circuit, you may indeed have to do a fair use analysis, or rely on the fact that Mirage is completely wrong and that the 9th Circuit probably wouldn’t hold the same way today. 

(If you’re making copies of pages and then blacking out words on those copies, then you do have to do a fair use analysis.)

April 11, 2014
Restoring CC attribution to Flickr, because Yahoo broke it

heidi8:

Via Cory Doctrow and BoingBoing:

Late last month, Yahoo updated the Flickr pages for each image in a way that removed all the structured Creative Commons license data, breaking the [attributr] script. And CC users who tried to make use of the images Flickr is privileged to host found that replicating the attribution text by hand was nearly impossible. The page used scripts that intercepted copy-to-clipboard shortcuts and also broke text-selection, so that it was nearly impossible to copy the name of image or the name of its creator to your clipboard unless you found it in the page’s source-code.

Click the link to learn how to fix it (for now) and why the changes Yahoo has made to flickr are problematic for those who entrusted their Creative Commons-licensed photos to the site. 

April 10, 2014

cobramonsterboy777 asked: Hello. :) I just want to inform you that Obama is going to tour Asia this month in order to finalize the TPP. He will do so by negotiating with Japan and Malaysia. Are you willing to take action yet?

We need to do more research but for now, we’re not ready to push anything to the forefront, in large part because of articles from today like this one which says there is an “impasse between the US and Japan over import tariffs” and because of that, Obama is unlikely to “conclude even a broad agreement in principle” regarding the Trans Pacific Partnership. 

The Wall Street Journal’s reporting is similar: 

"We’ve made some progress over the last two days, but there are still considerable differences in our positions on key issues," U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman told reporters at the end of a hastily scheduled trip aimed at reaching a deal before the summit.

We are definitely keeping an eye on it, because negotiations can have breakthroughs. But there wasn’t one on April 9 or 10. 

For anyone who’s interested in reading about how bad the TPP would be for medicine and medical devices, which are generally protected by patent, trademark and copyright laws, check out this piece in the Huffington Post. Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies don’t want the TPP to be fast-tracked, or become law. And the more people and businesses (with high-powered lobbyists) who are against it, the less likely it is that it will become law (in the US). 

April 10, 2014
EFF is Expanding into Student and Community Organizing, and We Need Your Help

For those of you in school - and those of you who are out of school and interested in community organizing - this is going to be a terrific way to support the EFF, get engaged and spread real information around your community, and be a positive force against anyone who tries to restrict fair use and other rights we use to share and communicate online. 

If you want to be in the center of things if the Trans Pacific Partnership tries to step on transformative works or something like SOPA comes back some day (it isn’t now), look into this - and get involved if you can. 

(Source: rivkat)

April 7, 2014
Last month at South By Southwest, annejamison hosted a reading from SmartPopBooks’ FIC: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World with FYC’s heidi8 - and through the course of SXSW, Heidi managed to collect a lot of corporate swag, from TripIt frisbees to Breathometer and Beacon Lounge shirts, PayPal earbuds, NASA temporary tattoos (a lot of them!), awesome bottle opener/USB drives, water bottles and more.  
We’re giving all of the above away - along with copies of FIC - to two randomly chosen winners. You can enter here - technically you don’t need to be on tumblr to enter. Please only fill in the form once per person. 
We’ll draw two winners’ names within 24 hours of the day we hit 5000 Followers at fyeahcopyright - and you get an extra entry if you reblog this post and paste the link on the entry form. 
We’re going to use Random.org to select the two winners, and if either or both don’t contact us within seven days of our notifying them that they’ve won, we’ll draw another number (or two) to pick new winners. 
Per tumblr’s rules: 
1. You have to be 18+ to enter; 
2. We cannot ship the prize to countries to which the US has embargoed goods (including Cuba and North Korea) and per Rule 4, only people in the US can enter (SORRY!)
3. The giveaway isn’t associated with Tumblr (in other words, it isn’t administered, sponsored, or endorsed by Tumblr), and each person participating is giving information to us and not to Tumblr. 
Good luck! And drop us an Ask if you have any questions. 

Last month at South By Southwest, annejamison hosted a reading from SmartPopBooks’ FIC: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World with FYC’s heidi8 - and through the course of SXSW, Heidi managed to collect a lot of corporate swag, from TripIt frisbees to Breathometer and Beacon Lounge shirts, PayPal earbuds, NASA temporary tattoos (a lot of them!), awesome bottle opener/USB drives, water bottles and more.  

We’re giving all of the above away - along with copies of FIC - to two randomly chosen winners. You can enter here - technically you don’t need to be on tumblr to enter. Please only fill in the form once per person. 

We’ll draw two winners’ names within 24 hours of the day we hit 5000 Followers at fyeahcopyright - and you get an extra entry if you reblog this post and paste the link on the entry form. 

We’re going to use Random.org to select the two winners, and if either or both don’t contact us within seven days of our notifying them that they’ve won, we’ll draw another number (or two) to pick new winners. 

Per tumblr’s rules

1. You have to be 18+ to enter; 

2. We cannot ship the prize to countries to which the US has embargoed goods (including Cuba and North Korea) and per Rule 4, only people in the US can enter (SORRY!)

3. The giveaway isn’t associated with Tumblr (in other words, it isn’t administered, sponsored, or endorsed by Tumblr), and each person participating is giving information to us and not to Tumblr. 

Good luck! And drop us an Ask if you have any questions.